Giga Austin Construction Workers Accuse Tesla of Multiple Labor Violations

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Construction workers that helped Tesla build Giga Austin have filed serious lab complaints against the EV maker with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), part of the federal Department of Labor. According to the workers, they had to build the plant under dangerous conditions, experienced frequent workplace accidents, and did not always get paid.
The British newspaper The Guardian broke the news and discovered the workers were helped by the Workers Defense Project, a non-profit organization. Its attorneys said that Tesla did nothing to stop the situation, and Texas contributed to it by preventing the construction from having an “independent monitoring piece.”

One of the workers The Guardian managed to interview said he had to work on the metal roof of Giga Austin at night without lights. They also had to deal with turbines blowing smoke without protective masks and work on flooded floors with live wiring. Another one said his bosses forged certificates that they had done training about health, safety, and worker’s rights.

Regarding the wage theft accusation, some workers were promised double-pay bonuses if they worked on Thanksgiving in 2021. After doing so, they did not get what their bosses said they would receive. This generated another complaint filed with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), another division of the Department of Labor.

That’s not the first time Tesla has been accused of caring very little about the safety of its employees and contractors. The company is facing several lawsuits for racism and sexual harassment. It would also have tried to lower the high number of workplace accidents by preventing its workers from calling ambulances when they got hurt. Instead, the company would call Lyft drivers to send them to hospitals.

Although most of these workers were not Tesla employees, the company is considered ultimately responsible for what happened. The Workers Defense Project attorneys told The Guardian Tesla could have demanded its contractors follow better work practices and preserved its employees.

If the Department of Labor considers Tesla and its contractors guilty, these companies may face fines and may have to pay their employees the money they did not get. Apparently, the major damage will be to Tesla’s reputation, but it does not seem concerned about that: as usual, it did not answer The Guardian’s requests for comments.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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